Students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, on Saturday openly expressed their frustration over recent unrests in federal universities by jeering President Goodluck Jonathan, who was a guest at the institution Friday.
Mr. Jonathan, and some state and federal officials, including Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose, were in the university to attend the Yoruba Unity Summit, organised by the Committee for Yoruba Unity, where he was endorsed for re-election in 2015.
The meeting also had in attendance the Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuade, among other traditional rulers.
But before the meeting ended, placard-wielding students gathered at the Amphi theatre/Oduduwa Hall area of the institution where the meeting was holding, chanting solidarity songs.
The students said they were angry over the recent tuition increase, rot in the education sector and attack by security operatives on protesting students of the University of Jos.
The students also halted the president’s convoy for a few minutes, by barricading the path of his motorcade before the president boarded a chopper.
The students also booed Mr. Fayose, the Ekiti State governor.
“Fayose got perhaps the biggest embarrassment of his life today. He walked confidently to Ife students expecting to be applauded. I can’t yet forget the look of shock on his face as shouts of Ole! Ole! (Thief! Thief!) rented the air,” said Hassan Taiwo, education right activist, who participated in the protest.
Some of placards brandished by the students read “Don’t sell education like you sold electricity”, “We condemn Jos killing of students”, ”We demand reversal of 2014 fee hike”.
A female student said she and her colleagues joined the protest because “the president’s coming coincided with a moment we are facing challenges in terms of learning facilities in the laboratories and classes.
“In our Geography lab, we don’t have anything except diagrams and furniture, if Ife is like this, what happens to other schools?”
However, in a telephone interview, the president of OAU Students’ Union, Ibikunle Isaac, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Jonathan was not rejected or embarrassed by his colleagues but that they only peacefully registered their grievances over fee raise.
“The leadership of the Union submitted protest letter over the fee increment to the president and he committed himself to seeing to the issue, while our students were gyrating on campus,” he said.
But another student disagreed with the SUG president.
“Of course it was a peaceful display against President Jonathan and his people, but we really embarrassed and booed them because of their insensitivity to various problems Nigeria is facing, as shown by this shameful endorsement from the so-called Yoruba leaders,” the student said.
“Don’t mind our Union president. It is understandable. What he called gyration was actually choruses of insults and how we booed Jonathan and his people,” he added.